Every year, Louis Vuitton throws away thousands of its unsold merchandise not because there’s anything wrong with the products, but because it needs to keep its image as a luxury brand.
I’m sure like me, you’re probably thinking. What? Why doesn’t the company just sell the items at a discount or better yet, donate it to charity?
This is because exclusivity is the lifeline of the brand and owning a Louis Vuitton item is seen as a high status symbol. Thus, the company would rather operate at a loss than reduce its perceived brand value by selling at a discount.
And at its core, this is the underlying premise for the wear it once culture.
Wear It Once culture is how we describe the effect of only wearing an outfit once before either getting rid of it, stuffing it to the back of your wardrobe or giving it away.
You can see it everywhere, on social media and news websites, with headlines screaming about the fact that a public figure has worn a clothing item or accessory more than once.
Never mind that this practice should be the exception not the norm, it has filtered its way into our everyday habits, with us creating mental calendars of when last a clothing item was worn and when next, it would be considered acceptable to wear it again.
According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom with 1000 participants; 12% of respondents indicated that they only wear an outfit once, the major reason because they don’t want people to see it twice on social media; 10% said their reason is to avoid judgment from their friends and come across as fashionable; while a surprising 27% of respondents said that they judge others who repeat outfits.
This is a global phenomenon that we can all relate to but one thing that we haven’t stopped to consider is the impact of this on the environment. The wear it once culture isn’t only harming us socially by breeding an ever increasing inferiority complex and social divide among individuals, it is also contributing to our waste problem.
According to a MacArthur Foundation study, the fashion industry produces 1.2 million metric tons of CO2 each year globally, consuming 93 billion metric tons of clean water. Less than 1% of clothing is recycled to make new clothes, with 53 million metric tons of discarded clothing incinerated or disposed of in landfills each year.
This is big.
But what can we do to minimize the negative impact of the ‘wear it once culture’ on us and the environment?
- The first is to embrace sustainability. We can achieve this by purchasing from brands with ethical practices and those who have incorporated environment-friendly processes in their packaging, design and production. When in doubt, the more natural and recyclable, the better.
- The second is to buy what you need. An overflowing closet is never a true sense of worth and by buying only what you need, you ensure that the items in your closet are ones that you really like, look great on you and make you feel confident while reducing clutter.
- The third is to choose quality over quantity and invest in higher-quality clothing items.
- The fourth is to take better care of your clothing: wash items less often and according to manufacturer specifications and repair them so they last longer.
- The last tip is to buy secondhand or vintage instead of a new outfit every time and instead of throwing away a good outfit, pass the clothing on to someone who will wear it, or to a thrift shop.
The journey to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle is filled with many little steps and we can commit to a positive action today.
Which of the tips will you be implementing?